Archives for: December 2010
I’ve been distracted from blogging by family activities and photography assignments. Even though it is closer to January 1 than December 25, I want to tell you about our Christmas dinner.
I grew up in a family that had turkey and dressing for Thanksgiving. Then a month later, we had turkey and dressing again for Christmas. It was tradition! It never occurred to me that anyone ate anything else. When I got married, I found that my husband’s family had turkey for Thanksgiving and ham for Christmas. What a shock! The company my husband and I worked for transferred us to South Texas, and there we learned that the Tex-Mex traditional Christmas food is tamales.
I love tamales, so I decided to incorporate this tradition into my own. We had tamales on Christmas Eve and turkey on Christmas Day. In the early years, I had to search hard to find tamales made without lard and made with a meat other than pork. One indication of increased awareness and interest in health is that it now is easy to find lower fat chicken and beef tamales.
About a week before Christmas our Strong Son asked if he could invite three friends for Christmas dinner. All three live out of state and have jobs that prevented them from going home for the holidays. I said an immediate yes! Then he asked if we could have tamales on Christmas Day. One of the friends had never eaten a tamale; the others were intrigued by the unfamiliar tradition.
I made queso for an appetizer. To go along with the tamales, I made spicy black beans with Type Os in mind and milder pinto beans for the Type As. I made a “Christmas salad” with chunks of tomato and avocado.
My husband’s mother always served ambrosia for dessert on Christmas Day. She made ambrosia with half oranges and half grapefruit generously topped with coconut. After I found the blood type diet, I started making ambrosia with just grapefruit and coconut. My family liked it as much, if not more, than the original. I thought ambrosia would make a light end to a hearty meal.
Our three guests represented three different parts of the country. One was from California; one form New York; and one from Arizona. As they came in, they commented on the Christmas tree, and how much they missed being at home with their families.
I had completely forgotten about drinks. I apologized that I didn’t have Coke or Dr. Pepper or the usual sodas because no one in our family drank them. I had peppermint tea, apple cider, and fruit juice with seltzer. No one was offended, and the peppermint tea was a big hit.
At the end of the meal when I brought out dessert, I found out that ambrosia was a Christmas tradition in each of the families, but each mom had her own variation on the recipe.
Our Christmas Day was made far richer by these three new friends. Whatever your traditions, whether you were near or far from those you love; I hope your Christmas was full of joy. And I hope that you took a moment to thank and praise the One whose name is forever embedded in the word Christmas.
Christmas Eve was wonderful. My Darling Daughter and I have been cooking for two days. We had turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, green beans and cranberries. We made pumpkin pie using ground pecans as a crust. We also made our fruit cake, which even my husband admits is as good as Collin Street Bakery’s, though it is 100% wheat free.
One year DD and I made dressing using flax bread and spelt biscuits. This year, she suggested we try flax bread and grated zucchini. We used all of the traditional seasonings. I liked it, but when our Strong Son went back for a large second helping, I knew it was a true success. DD has switched from soy milk to almond milk, so I made the sweet potato casserole using her almond milk. I didn’t want to top it with marshmallows, but I sprinkled turbinado sugar on top - just a little sweetness and crunch. I think it was the best sweet potato casserole I’ve ever eaten.
We had our dinner at lunch time. The plan was to take a long family walk afterwards, but while we were eating a norther blew in, pelting the house with frigid rain. DD, SS and I went to the neighborhood fitness center and worked out there.
The evening Candlelight Service at Church was beautiful. We sang lots of my favorite Christmas Carols.
This poem came in a Christmas card from one of my friends. I share it as my Christmas greeting to each of you on the BTD and/or GTD.
If you look for me at Christmas,
You won’t need a special star.
I’m no longer just in Bethlehem,
I’m right there where you are.
You may not be aware of Me,
Amid the celebrations.
You’ll have to look beyond the stores,
And all the decorations.
But if you take a moment,
From your list of things to do,
And listen to your heart, you’ll find
I’m waiting there for you.
You’re the one I want to be with,
You’re the reason that I came.
And you’ll find Me in the stillness,
As I’m whispering your name.
When I first read that quince was beneficial for both Hunters and Teachers, I said, “What is a quince?” I learned that they are shaped sort of like an apple, but they are smaller and harder. They smell sort of like a pear, but they aren’t as sweet.
I asked the produce manager at the grocery store. He said that they did carry quince, but only for a limited time in the fall. I watched for them, but never saw one until this year. I was excited to try a new beneficial, and I bought two.
I found a website that showed a couple of ways to cook and eat them. I tried one method on the first quince. It was ok, but certainly not as immediately enticing as most other beneficial foods are.
This might have ended my interest in quince, but DD had also bought some. She cooked hers a different way in her college apartment, and said she liked it. So, when she got home for Christmas break, I watched her cook my second quince.
She pealed the quince and cut out the core. She put it in a covered sauce pan with one can of undrained pineapple chunks and simmered them together at a low temperature for a long time - probably an hour. The quince was done when it turned pink. The first day I added pineapple/quince to my regular breakfast mix along with a banana. Today I ate the last of the quince with cherries. I liked it.
I read that at one time every farm had a quince tree. They were used for making jelly because they had a high pectin contest. They were also mixed with other fruits in pies. I was left with the impression that since they could easily be grown on a local farm, they were used to stretch other fruits that were store bought. That is certainly how they worked best in my breakfast. Alone they were just ok. Mixed with other fruit they taste good.
I classify quince as a "high maintenance" food. It is moderately expensive. It is time consuming to prepare. It does not taste good alone, though it is good when mixed with other fruits. Because it is a health building beneficial, I'll buy a couple each fall. But I don't like them enough to consider planting a quince tree in my yard.
While DD is home for Christmas break, we are getting all of her routine medical check ups. Monday she had an eye appointment. When she was in elementary school she began to get headaches and eye strain. Most children who wear glasses need them for distance vision. But when I took DD to the eye doctor, it was her close up vision that needed correction. She also had a slight astigmatism. So DD wore glasses all through middle school and high school. I took her in for an eye check up about a year before she left for college, and her vision had not changed from her previous appointment.
I intended to take her in two years later, but I forgot, so she had not had a vision test for 3 1/2 years. She told me at Thanksgiving that her glasses hurt her eyes and that she had stopped wearing them. It was definitely time for an eye exam.
When her eye doctor came out to give me the report, he said that her astigmatism was gone. Both her near and far vision were perfect. She no longer needed glasses at all.
If this was the only good news, it might not have attracted my attention, but I had my eyes checked a month ago. My vision has not changed from my last exam two years ago. At my age, 57, that is welcome news. But the best news is about cataracts.
Eye doctors say they begin to notice cataract formation in patients in their 40s and 50s. Most of those cataracts are small and do not affect vision. After age 60 cataracts increase in size and by late 60s and early 70s they begin to affect vision. In the US, cataracts are reported in 42% of those between the ages of 52 to 64, 60% of those between the ages 65 and 74, and 91% of those between the ages of 75 and 85.
I asked my eye doctor about cataracts. He says that I have no sign of them at all.
Is DD’s improvement in vision is related to the Blood Type Diet?
Are my cataract free eyes related to the Blood Type Diet?
It would be impossible to know for sure. All I really know is that I feel great, I have lots of energy, I am on no prescription medications, and very few of my peers can say the same.
This blog is part confession, part suggestion, and part relaxation of the rules. If you have followed my experiences on the BTD for the past six years, you know that I’m usually looking for ways to make holidays as compliant as possible. Most years I intend to continue that practice. But this year, I find myself wanting to taste again the traditional Christmas foods I grew up with.
If I were going to psychoanalyze myself, I would say that it probably has something to do with the fact that of the last four Christmases, three have involved critical and terminal health issues with my parents. I encounter memories of what happened on particular days in December at every turn. Because of that I find myself craving to reconnect with the joy and delight of Christmas.
I went all out decorating my house this year. My husband tried to discourage me, but I told him that I really needed to do it. He didn’t understand, but he could see my passion, and after I was finished, he admitted that the house looks the best it ever has.
Another part of restoring good memories is food. I’m sure I could fight against the urge to splurge…for a while. But I have a feeling that if I did, there would come a moment in January, when Christmas goodies were all gone, that I would crash and indulge in stress eating. It wouldn’t be as satisfying, and it certainly wouldn’t be as tasty.
So I’m going to relax the rules a little this year. I continue to be almost 100% compliant at home. DD and I are going to do compliant dressing and pies for our family Christmas. But I am being much less stringent at parties and family gatherings. I went to a cookie exchange this week, and I ate cookies - quite a few, in fact. I also ate several kinds of cheese appetizers. We have a party coming up with a Mexican food theme, and while I won’t eat chips, I intend to eat tamales and enchiladas.
There is one level at which I feel a little bit guilty. But for the most part, I think this is a necessary (and temporary) way to set aside the recent past and re-experience more distant memories. I do not want to get caught up in a rut of sadness at this most happy and blessed time of the year. If a little sugar and coconut will help me get past this year with a joyful heart, I think it will be worth it.
If you are like me, I would urge you to face yourself honestly. Identify what is making you sad, confront it, and pray about it. Put limits on how far you will go with Christmas avoids. Saying yes at parties, but a firm NO at home is a good place to start. Saying that the relaxation of rules comes to a screeching halt on December 26 or 27 might be another good limit.
You are here on this website because you recognize that the Blood Type Diet is the best program for your physical needs. But there are deep emotional and spiritual needs that surface at Christmas time - don’t attempt to neglect or deny them.
My Honorable Husband injured his knee in 2005 and got incredible relief with physical therapy. He has no pain with normal activity, but if he walks for very long on a steep incline he has soreness and stiffness for several days. It terrifies him. He thinks he has reinjured the knee and is doomed to surgery. This means that the mountain hiking we both loved to do is severely limited.
Last summer in a chance (or perhaps providential) conversation with a woman in the neighborhood, I found out about a lady’s hiking club. There are about 25 women who hike in nearby state parks every Friday. It took a while to get connected, but on Friday I took my third hike with the group.
These ladies are serious hikers. Most of them are grandmothers, and they hike because they believe that if they stay physically active they will age more gracefully. The first two hikes were steep and aggressive. I met ladies who have hiked in the Alps and on the Appalachian Trail. I was glad in was in good enough shape to keep up.
Most of them are also interested in eating healthy. In so many situations, people give me strange looks when they see what I eat – like a meat and veggie bowl when everyone else is eating sandwiches. Not the hiking club ladies! There are certainly lots of sandwiches, but there are also a lot of salads and trail mix. There are even others who eat veggie bowls like I do. I’m probably the most serious about the Blood Type Diet, but several follow the basic principles.
On Friday we took a guided hike in a protected natural area. The weather was perfect, and the docent filled us with knowledge about truly native plants as well as plants that are encroaching in Central Texas. The walk, fresh air, and good conversation were rejuvenating.